Monday, October 11, 2021

Abbey Rader and John McMinn - Two as One (ABRAY Productions, 2021)

This is an exciting and very well played modern jazz album with the duo of Abbey Rader on drums and percussion and John McMinn on tenor saxophone, piano and percussion. This album was fully improvised and recorded in Miami in of 2021. "Rejoiceful Reunion" opens the album with raw saxophone and bounding drums, both strong and potent, pushing boundaries fearlessly dark toned saxophone and crisp cymbal play. Spaciousness with cymbals and probing saxophone is the key to "Inner Vision" as the music picks up and stretches out with graceful interplay between the two musicians. Caustic overblown saxophone keeps the tension high, then ratchets back down carefully for concluding section. "Diss & Dass" has McGinn moving to the piano using chords that repeat along side shimmering percussion. The dark cords produce a fantasia of sound with percussion rumbling underneath, and two instruments mesh in a tumult of cascading sounds, each percussive in their own way, dynamic music chords and brushes, to the end. Rolling drums and majestic saxophone set the tome for "To the Masters Before" developing swirling patterns of both saxophone and drums which lead to deeper strata of improvisation as they play. "Defending the Gate" is a fascinating song, with unique sweeping harp like piano, giving the music an Alice Coltrane kind of vibe paired with shaken percussion and bells which deepen the spiritual jazz effect. Unaccompanied drums run deep and powerful on "Rhythm of My Birth" soon joined by strident saxophone in a freewheeling exploration of sound. Ripe collective improvisation between the two instruments takes place burrowing deeply into their potential. "Repentance" is the centerpiece of the album, with deeply emotional saxophone playing long tones over drums. The long track unfolds episodically, with rolling loose percussion supporting the burly saxophone playing, which builds into sections of overblowing, then the two lock into a fast mutually supportive improvisation that drives forward relentlessly. An epic drum solo, heavy stuff, finally leading to a tempestuous improvisation and the finish. Rader and McMinn have been playing together for thirty years before the pandemic brought that to a halt in 2020. They re-emerged the following year with this excellent album that shows them at the top of their game. Two as One -

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